Our partners at the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) achieved an important victory for Jamaicans and the environment. JET challenged the government’s construction of a new road on the Palisadoes tombolo, a narrow spit fringed with mangroves, sand dunes, and rare, native plant species. It is also a sea turtle nesting beach. Palisadoes connects Kingston and the mainland to the Norman Manley International Airport and the historic town of Port Royal. The strip forms part of the Palisadoes-Port Royal Protected Area and has been declared a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention.
JET argued that the government had not provided sufficient information about the project and had not adequately consulted the public. JET explains that “[t]he court ruled that [the government] breached the legal standard for consultation and breached the legitimate expectation that all environmental information relative to the development of Palisadoes would be disclosed to the public and the applicant before approval was granted.”
Unfortunately, despite ruling that the government’s actions did not meet the legal standard for public participation, the damage was already done and the court allowed the permits to stand. Therefore, construction of the roadway, boardwalk and seawalls will continue.
Although the impacts to the environment in this particular project will not be stopped, this is a very important legal victory – and should help stop future ill-conceived projects from going forward. Improving public participation in decisions that impact the environment is critical for achieving sustainable development.